"Some shrink you are." Joe sniffed.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You chat away quite happily about how good she is at her job, how good you are at yours, how much so-and-so is improving, how nice the new lights in the day room are. You told me you even talk in medical terms with her." Joe said.
"Yes. Like I said, she's very intelligent." Dean nodded.
"I wouldn't doubt it." Joe agreed. "As soon as you switch to anything more personal, even if it is just a mars bar from the machine, then the guards go up. That's even obvious to me, Dean, hell."
"So she's hiding something?"
"Oh man you are thick! No! Look Dean I've known you for years pal. The defences go up to protect her private life, mate, she obviously doesn't want you in it. I know, go on, call me an arsehole." Joe sighed.
"Yeah I know." Dean said gloomily. "She'd never just come straight out and tell me to clear off either. She wouldn't speak like that to anyone."
"So we get the guard up and a nice no. So nice that you keep going back to talk to her in a professional, friendly way so I'd say she does like you actually." Joe reasoned.
"But she knows where, and at what distance to like me. I get it." Dean nodded moodily. "Well that's shite."
"You seem really keen on her too." Joe said sympathetically. He was quite taken aback by his friend's persistance with this girl, and the despairing mood it was causing him.
"She's different. That's all." Dean shrugged. "You'd think after six months I'd have her weighed up a bit more eh? I tried to get to know her in a completely different way than I usually do with girlfriends. Even Philipa didn't get this much thought." Philipa had been an enduring relationship of eighteen months. She got it into her jealous head that if girls found Dean attractive, then men were going to find her attractive. They did and Philippa ended up in bed with a football player called Brian. One thing Dean had never done, and would never do, was cheat. He could play the field when he was single, but he'd never betray anyone's feelings like that. Yes he was an arrogant sod at times, but he was a nice, faithful, arrogant sod. It had taken him quite a while to get over Philippa. "You think I should leave it, don't you?"
"Come on Dean, you know I'd never tell you to do anything regarding your own personal life. Maybe this is only as far as it's going to go, is all I'm saying." Joe said.
"Maybe for the best." Dean didn't even convince himself. "We get along just fine as it is. Who knows what would change if it went any further."
"Cut your losses and count your blessings."
"Something like that." Dean sighed heavily. "Still shite though."
"I give up." Joe rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I have a brain tumour removal to watch in an hour."
"And I'm listening to advice from you on a social life?" Dean laughed. "Go away with you. I have research notes on the primitive limbic system to entertain me. Pair of sad sods eh." Joe laughed and left his friend to his notes.
"How do you think you've done on your band G exam?" Dean jumped at the sound of the other voice in the room.
"Dr. Fallon! Marie, I'm sorry, I didn't see you come in." Dean smiled at the senior psychiatrist. "Er excuse any bad language you heard there." Dean cringed and tried to think how foul his mouth had been while talking to Joe.
"Oh don't worry. I can out-cuss the pair of you." Marie Fallon smiled at Dean. Dean was one of Marie's stars, one of her prodiges. She saw the marks of an excellent doctor as soon as she'd seen him working. "Think you've passed?"
"Well I'd like to think so." Dean shrugged.
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